Cloak and Dagger

Exactly when did transfer dealings become so covert and is there a more sinister reason? Players have been bought and sold pretty much since football became professional. Way before the maximum wage was abolished. Then a couple of things happened, the ruling in favour of Jon Bosman, and the Justice Taylor report that heavily recommended all seater stadiums. Without going into too much of a history lesson because in all honesty, this is just my take on where we are. Football was in a bit of a mess coming out of the 80s. No fingers pointed, No blame aimed, no can of worms opened, just fact, the crowds had dropped off dramatically. Footballs image was at an all time low. Along came the break away league that we now know as the Prem and also Sky. Sky set about marketing this new league as THE league to be in and nothing else mattered. Us fans suddenly found ourselves on the outside looking through the window. All seater stadiums were pushed on us using the guaranteed seat mantra. The loans that were taken out by clubs to pay for the building work, were paid back with increased season ticket sales. Sky dishes were sold with subscription packages and the shady way that the breakaway league came about was brushed swiftly under the carpet. The money started to flow. The ordinary supporters found that to sit where they used to stand had increased by 50%. Never mind that you didn’t want to sit, you were getting overcharged for the “privilege” Sky made sure their coverage was different and better than the traditional mainstream BBC and ITV and once little things like squad numbers and names on shirts and hooligan banning orders had taken effect, football became attractive again. You could add other things to the list but the money kept multiplying. The Sky deal increased and clubs started to look further afield for their players and coaches. The transfers went up and so did the wages. Enter stage left agents and their agendas. Now I’m sure that an agent could bore me to the point where I want to grab the nearest sharp object and. . . . . . . well you let your imagination finish the sentence, telling me how much work he has to do for his client. Can any agent explain why Paul Scholes never needed one? Scholes let his union take care of all his contracts. As does James Milner and Gareth Barry. All 3 played for England, all 3 will have been paid handsomely for plying their trade. Now here’s the crux of matter. The amount of the transfer was always disclosed. You knew which player cost what. Dealings were transparent. They also didn’t take very long to be concluded. Since agents became involved, transfer fees started to become announced as undisclosed. Usually followed by the words “Believed to be in the region of” and then what ever they want you to think it was. We are now at a stage where every transfer is undisclosed. Young players with less than half a dozen first team appearances having agents. Loan fees for players. Players that are owned by a 3rd party. Image rights. Even the quickest of transfers takes 3 days. (Unless, mysteriously on deadline day) So why undisclosed? Why the secrecy? From whom and what are they trying to hide exactly? Is it for tax purposes? Is it because they don’t want to actually state how much the fee was taken up with paying the agent? Is that again because the agent doesn’t want how much they got paid revealed due to tax purposes? Is it that all involved don’t want the shareholders of the club to know? Is it simply that they don’t want the fans to know? Or is it none of the above and it’s something else even worse? I can not watch a sound bite from an agent on Sky sports news anymore without having to visit Argos afterwards to replace the T.V. that I’ve just kicked up the wall. Room 101? Football agents. The blight on the modern game. The day of the revolution, agents first. Robbed of all their money first of course. Distributed, Robin Hood like to smaller clubs way down the food chain. Given to the hundreds of volunteers up and the country that keep their local football clubs going. If you’re one of those volunteers reading this, you’ve got my infinite respect. If you’re an agent . . . . . . who am I trying to kid. Like any of them would read a blog like this when there’s still money to be sucked out of talent.

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